Thursday, 4 May 2017

Let it Simmer

My father likes to tell the story of when he was a schoolboy and painted a bird. As he speaks of this bird he beams with pride, leading me to picture the most elegant of feathered creatures, displayed skillfully through graceful brushwork and studious composition. This bird was near perfect according to him. Near perfect that is, until he went to finish its eye. Sadly, this is where the story takes a turn for the worse...

The eye was not cooperative you see, and so my poor father fiddled and fiddled with it, ruining his beloved painting in the process.

It’s a cautionary tale and an effective one at that. I am always sad to hear it. Saddened by the image of my father as a child tossing away his precious art-piece and sorry for myself that I won’t ever get to see it.

Learning my father's lesson and not wanting to ruin any of my ‘birds’, when I reach a seemingly impassable point of frustration with a piece of writing, I set it aside. I slide it to the back burners of my mind and ‘let it simmer’.

Sometimes it is best to walk away from a creative entity, let it breathe and gift it with time apart from ourselves. Let it steep in our subconscious while we move onto other things and let go of the resentment we feel towards it for not being fully realized yet.

In the meantime as we work on other projects it will still be there, simmering, getting better without us even realizing. Ideas like seeds will take root, eager to sprout upon our return.

That return can be glorious too. M and I recently dusted off an old feature outline of ours and were pleasantly surprised by its contents. We’d slid it to the back burners months ago, doubting its value at the time. Having had time apart, our old ideas shone anew and it was easy to see what cluttered the page and where we were starting to veer off course. After only a few hours of tightening we proudly passed it on to an interested party, who may well be its ideal business fit. Score one for ‘letting it simmer’!

Now, if only I could go back in time and whisper this advice to my father’s younger self. Perhaps there would be a beautiful painting of a bird hanging in my apartment right now.

Perhaps. Then again, I wouldn't have the leg-up his story has given me.

Thanks Dad. For what its worth, in my mind, your bird is glorious.

- J

*J, learning to embrace imperfection in my art has helped me learn to be more compassionate with myself. I also wish you could have seen that bird, I'm sure it was beautiful.  - M

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Maira Gall